Mammogram Appointments - What to Expect During the Exam | Health 101

Health 101

Don’t Fear That Mammogram

My grandmother and mother never had breast cancer, so I don’t have to worry. I’m physically active, so I don’t have to worry. I am young, so I don’t have to worry.

Are you putting off your mammogram?

Don’t let excuses get in your way. If you are a woman and getting older, you are at risk for breast cancer.
In fact, most women who have breast cancer do not have family history of the disease.


Breast cancer is the most common women’s cancer. It is the second leading cause of death among women1&2.


There is a lot of mixed information about what causes breast cancer. All this information can be very overwhelming, and confusing. We tackle a few of the most common facts and myths about the disease.


Regular self-exams can help you catch signs of breast cancer early. All women should do breast self-exams at least once a month3. You should report any changes in your breasts to your doctor right away. Here are a couple of signs to look for when doing your self-exams.

To learn how to perform a self-exam at home, follow these tips.3

Self-exams aren’t enough. It is important to get regular mammograms as well.

Mammograms take an X-ray picture of your breasts. This can help detect a lump two years before you even feel one. While a doctor may be able to feel a lump the size of a small pea, mammograms can find lumps the size of a grain of rice! Finding a lump early makes it easier for a doctor to treat. In fact, regular mammograms increase your chances of finding breast cancer in its earlier stages.


What can you expect at a mammogram?

At your mammogram appointment, you will undress above the waist and wear a hospital gown. You will stand in front of an X-ray machine. A technician helps position your breasts on the X-ray plates. Then pictures are taken of your breasts.

It’s easy to make excuses as to why not to get a mammogram. However regular exams can literally save your life. A woman with a family history of breast cancer should talk to her doctor about getting checked more often. All women aged 40+ should get regular mammograms. 


Here are some age guidelines from the American Cancer Society4:

  • Women 40-44 should have the choice to start yearly breast cancer screening with mammograms if they wish to do so.
  • Women 45-54 should get mammograms every year.
  • Women 55+ should switch to mammograms every 2 years, or can continue yearly screening.


Gateway Health continues to make it easy for you to get the care you need. Female members may not need a doctor referral for a mammogram. Some facilities may still request a script. You can ask when you call to schedule your visit. Please take your member identification card with you on the day of your visit. The radiology center will also need to know who your doctor is.

Don’t delay, schedule your mammogram today!



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